Pirates Outlaws aka Slay the Spire but Pirates!

This game has some love within the Little Indie Games Worth Knowing of thread but gosh dang it, deserves it’s own. It has a lot of similarity to Slay the Spire but has some wonderfully cool and clever features of its own.

The recent release on PC follows a mobile version. The PC version gives all content with no further microtransactions, and huge amounts of content, unlocked through in-game challenges and play.

This is a fully featured game with good balance and a pretty enormous amount of varied content, heroes to play, maps to play on, quests to take, cards and relics (artifacts) to unlock. If it hooks you I reckon you could expect 100+ hours of play.

@Mysterio @lordkosc @Rod_Humble @Mark_L @Charlatan @Misguided

. . . oh yeah, and one of the heroes you can unlock is a Bear Tamer. Having a bear, cool. It adds a really interesting mechanic of attacking/defending using the tamer and/or the bear, with the bear getting stronger the more it is used. The pic shows this being used in an arena mode which is like a survival challenge, distinct from the usual exploration and questing mode.

All this frecnh language lead me to think these ain’t pirates but are really corsairs.

Reading through the comments on steam and it looks like some of the mechanics are tied to traditional design, uhm, mistakes that Slay the Spire jettisoned entirely. Specifically, I saw the word ‘dodge’ with a percentage sign in worryingly close proximity.

Any comments as to how much this sorta RNG factors into the gameplay? I can’t stress enough about how much ‘RNG dodge as a core defence mechanic’ triggers my PTSD having suffered through rolling demon hunter at Diablo 3’s launch.

I’m usually the first to laugh at people who cannot handle output randomness and/or are unable to do risk management, but output randomness in a card game is seriously absurd.

You already have a ton of input randomness due to your draws and the opponent’s “draws”. If there are cards that have their own result based on chance (and in the case of Dodge in this one, 50%?!), then those cards will simply never be used. This has been true since as early as MTG (yes, you can build a coin flip deck, but outside of specialized nonsense like that…).

A huge part of risk management in deck building is making sure you have as few situational or “fluctuating” cards as possible. A card that only works half the time has no place in a deck.

That said, from what I can gather, there are only a few outliers that are strongly random (e.g. Dodge), making some classes incredibly luck-based. But if you stick to other classes/decks, you should be fine.

True as that may be, the completionist in me rails against it as an excuse, and that’s true of all games that have ‘optional’ bits that just suck. I don’t want to get involved with something I just know will end up annoying me in the long run.

I’ll admit that’s probably a character flaw more than anything else and I’m trying to bail sooner on stuff I realize I’m no longer enjoying. It still grates, though, and sometimes it’s hard to ignore those delicious carrots. I’m not exactly keen on putting down money just to test myself.

Oh, I get you. I’m mostly the same.
And with so many games out there, I’ve grown even more picky.

We are incredibly spoiled these days, aren’t we? :)

I think I would prefer fully deterministic gameplay too so I am not over fond of the RNG present via a few mechanics within Pirate Outlaws. Dodge is one of them. There are a few others, from recall -

“Drunk” status changes every attack into one which either does double damage or none (or similar)

There is a hero ‘Lucky’ who is effectively based around RNG, including that his core cards arrive into your hand with values within a range, and every attack has a double or nothing chance.

My experience though is that these can be minimised and sometimes even eliminated entirely from a run. You have a lot of agency over cards that go into your deck. I would say more than Slay the Spire despite being forced to take a reward after every fight. The greater agency is thanks to -

  1. You can always “reroll” reward picks by spending 25 coins and each fight will give you coins
  2. You can almost always therefore choose a non RNG based card, or a relic
  3. Card removal is fairly plentiful, via both ‘taverns’ and some events

Lykurgos: The vigilante (lucky) was actually responsible for my highest burst of damage due to a heavy bout of the drunk status effect, the mark effect, and one of the three hit ranged whoppers.

My favorite character so far is absolutely the Fortune Teller, though. She has a deck of unique cards that perform differently when she draws her sole (unremovable!) curse, The Fool. She has the lowest HP, but each time she dies she returns with her powers slightly raised, until her three lives are up. She also hits you with a sense of slow inevitability, too, as The Fool drains her life whenever it is in her hand at the turn’s end. Dread it, run from it, destiny still arrives. On top of all that her future sight lets you see your draw order, so you know what your next turn will be, allowing you to carefully plan in a way none of the other characters can.

The overall feeling is of a seer who sees her own doom approaching in the cards, and is desperately scrambling to delay the inevitable. She has one last trick, too, that I’ll keep quiet about. Just a fantastically designed, thematic character!

I played this for a while on Android and the grind to unlock things seemed really brutal.

I also wasn’t super into the various random dodge/drunk mechanisms.

This was a while back and it looks like they added a bunch of stuff with it. Maybe the PC unlock stuff is less ‘tuned’ to encourage IAP so it might work a lot better.

I downloaded the mobile out of curiosity and yes, the grind there is clearly terrible. I don’t feel the PC version is grindy at all.

FWIW, I am find with the rng stuff. Sometimes drunk hits, sometimes it don’t. I haven’t been frustrated by it so far. And the lucky vigilante is a blast to play, and responsible for arguably my most dominant win yet.

Game is really good. The one thing I don’t like is the ship action points, which is just a lame mechanic, imo.

One question I have: in still early in—three characters available—and I really don’t know what I should be trying to do because the progression seems less obvious than other games. Should I be trying to beat the first area? Play the second one instead? Are the quests worth bothering with?

Agree that I don’t see much purpose to ship action points. At least they get cute with it with the Carpenter, but otherwise it could be removed or replaced with something better. Very minor gripe for me, though.

edit: I have just hammered on the first area. I got something neato for finally finishing that first quest, but I can’t remember what it was :( . I’m finally branching out into world 2 after more than 10 hours of play!

My best run so far was my first attempt at third boss (there were two of them). Was hanging on with my swashbuckler and was about to take one down then got wrecked with a 38 point crit. By first quest, you mean the 9 bosses in first area?

Yup, that one.

Maybe I should work on that then. I wonder why they made you choose to work on one at a time.

I do not recommend taking this one first. After 10+ hours play I have completed Pirate Cove area at least 9-10 times and am yet to complete this quest because I am yet to encounter the third boss type in the third stage. It takes quite some time to get to third stage.

At this point I have already unlocked the focus hero, the one after the bear, but remain on the first quest. No big deal, but other quests would have completed earlier

Which would you suggest? Again, the fact you have to choose is odd.

Finally finished a run in Pirate Bay. Used sword master. Had 2 upgraded gang of sharks, a maelstrom, upgraded backstab, and relics that give armor each time I played a card and at end of turn, so lots of sustain.

Hard to recommend as I am still on that first quest! I think there are quests that just require you to “explore” Pirate Cove X times or steer into Maelstroms. Either of those should be finishable quickly.